Protecting Employees’ Health

Tobacco-free worksite policies limit secondhand smoke exposure on the job


While the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking at most businesses, a number of places of employment — including all outdoor job sites — are exempt. This exposes employees and others to dangerous and unpleasant secondhand smoke.


What’s the problem?

Secondhand smoke exposure can cause a number of health problems, including coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.1

And that’s true even if the smoking is taking place outside. Studies show outdoor secondhand smoke levels can be equal to or greater than indoor secondhand smoke exposure when smoking is occurring closeby.2

Tobacco use, even smokeless tobacco such as chew or dip, hurts employers too. The use of tobacco — particularly at work — leads to increased absenteeism, lost productivity and higher medical and worker compensation expenses.


Where are people exposed to secondhand smoke at work?

Indoor places of employment that can still allow smoking under the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act include cigar bars, hookah lounges and some hotels.

Outdoor worksites, like those in the construction and oil and gas industries, also can permit tobacco use unless employers have chosen to implement their own tobacco-free policies.

Additionally, Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act and some local smoke-free policies do not prohibit vaping, which can also impact the health of people nearby by exposing them to the chemicals in vapor.3


What can you do?

As an employer, you can implement a smoke- and tobacco-free policy at your business to protect your employees and clients.

Comprehensive tobacco-free workplace policies reduce exposure to secondhand smoke among employees, reduce tobacco use among workers, and encourage employees to quit smoking. This can help increase productivity, lower absenteeism, lower health insurance premiums, decrease worker’s compensation costs, and save on maintenance and clean up costs with total benefits of up to $6,000 annually, per smoker.4


To protect your employees and your bottom line, implement a smoke- and tobacco-free workplace policy.


Resources for employees

When passing smoke and tobacco-free policies in workplaces, some employees may choose to quit. Free help and medication is available through the Colorado QuitLine. Call 1-800-QUITNOW or enroll online at Free QuitLine promotional materials are available at


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free: Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. [PDF–795 KB] Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2016 Jan 11].
2. Klepeis NE, Ott WR, Switzer P. (2007) Real-time Measurement of Outdoor Tobacco Smoke Particles. Journal of Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2007; May; 57 (5): 522-34
3. Committee on the Review of the Health Effects of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes.
4. Beman M, Crane R, Seiber E, et al. Tob Control 2014;23:428-433 Estimating the cost of a smoking employee.